2 Peter 1:5 says: “… giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things abound you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” (KJV)
Depending on the translation being read, patience and perseverance are used interchangeably. These words are generally understood to have different meanings. However, in looking at them closely, one term simply reinforces the other for a deeper, more expansive comprehension of what Peter is trying to convey. Perseverance stands upon patience so that the two together provide a broader perspective.
Patience defines the capacity to accept or tolerate any delay, trouble or suffering without becoming angry or upset. This shapes the meaning of perseverance which is to be steadfast, firm and unwavering in doing something despite hindrances, struggle or delay in achievement.
Perseverance is patience matured! Patience is seen in “waiting” while perseverance is seen in being “tireless, steady and unmovable” while waiting. Simply waiting is not sufficient, one must wait tirelessly without wavering. Reaping in due season comes only to those who do not faint!
Patience/perseverance is fundamental to the nature of God and is the branch of character by which we are conformed to a significant aspect of the image and likeness of Christ called long-suffering. The development of long-suffering is essential to successfully handle the pressures and problems of life in a godly manner.
Patience/perseverance is not developed automatically, our cooperation with Christ’s work in us is necessary. This is one reason why James 1:2-8 tells us to expect trials; without trials it would be impossible to develop this branch of character. Therefore, standing on the substructures of faith, knowledge and temperance (self-control) and being fully persuaded that God is working in us, we should let the trials that come into our lives work for us rather than work against us.
In our human nature we try to quickly eliminate trials, we attempt to walk away from very difficult situations by ignoring them, shaving away the cause, abandoning someone, changing course, etcetera. However, if/when we insist on ridding ourselves of that which is designed to enable us to walk in patience/perseverance, God will in one way or another, lovingly but firmly, bring us full circle. The same experiences will be repeated again and again until we emerge victorious in handling life’s pressures, problems and people with Christ like character.
Each attribute outlined in 2 Peter 1:5 serves as a conduit. Patience/perseverance, the passageway to managing the “pressures of life” in a godly manner, flows from the stream of temperance, developed to successfully handle the “pleasures of life”. Generally, people who lack temperance “give in” to pleasures, especially those of a restrictive nature and are not disciplined enough to effectively deal with life’s pressures. People inclined to “give in” generally tend to “give up”!
God first instructs us to gain temperance and trains us so we learn not to “give in”. This discipline becomes the stepping stone to patience/perseverance which, once attained, keeps us from “giving up”. Only a loving Father builds, strengthens and insists upon developing in His sons and daughters what is “needed” versus merely what is “wanted”.
God is with us in the midst of trials, engaging them to operate for our good and for His glory and He provides all the power necessary for victory. Once patience/perseverance is accomplished within us by use of the trial design, the trial is over. Once it is finished, we are released to advance and we move on to experience and know the next degree of God’s glory.